As previously reported, on May 5, 2021, Governor Cuomo signed the New York Health and Essential Rights Act (commonly referred to as NY HERO Act) into law, and amendments to the NY HERO Act were subsequently passed on June 11, 2021. The NY HERO Act applies to private employers, and their employees, and mandates workplace health and safety measures for airborne infectious diseases.
One of the major components of the NY HERO Act is the requirement that employers create and adopt airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plans in their workplaces. The plans cover familiar topics, such as personal protective equipment, social distancing, isolation/quarantine protocols, disinfecting, and ventilation. Employers can fulfill the requirement by adopting model plans released by the New York State Department of Labor (NYDOL).
The deadline for employers to adopt airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plans was triggered by the NYDOL publishing the aforementioned model plans. This just occurred on July 6, 2021. Now that the clock has started, employers will have 30 days, or until August 5, 2021, to create and adopt their own plans. Industry specific plan templates are available on the NYDOL website for: agriculture, construction, delivery services, domestic workers, emergency response, food services, manufacturing and industry, personal services, private education, private transportation, and retail.
In addition to creating a plan, employers also need to distribute it to employees. The timeframe for sharing the plan with employees is also dependent on the NYDOL and is 60 days from when the model industry-specific plans were released, making this deadline September 4, 2021. Plans must also be available for inspection upon request by contractors and government entities, given to every new hire, posted in the workplace, and published in the employee handbook (if the employer has one).
Notably, although employers are required to adopt and share plans within these timeframes, the plans only go into effect when an airborne infectious disease is designated by the New York State Commissioner of Health as a highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health. According to the NYDOL website, as of today, no such designation has been made.
Harter Secrest & Emery’s Labor and Employment attorneys are here to answer any questions you may have regarding the NY HERO Act. Please contact any Labor and Employment team member at 585.232.6500 or 716.853.1616.